American Express Renews Communications Focus with appointment of ASDA'A Public Relations
Dubai, May 16, 2006 – In a move that strengthens its regional communications strategy, leading global payments company American Express has appointed ASDA’A Public Relations to manage its Corporate Communications and Public Relations across the GCC, Levant and North Africa.

The appointment follows a competitive five-way pitch held in March 2006, and is part of a new thrust in American Express’ operations in the region.

A world leader in charge and credit cards, American Express operates in 18 markets across the MENA region through American Express Middle East (AEME), a joint venture between Mawarid Investment Limited and American Express; and in Saudi Arabia through AMEX Saudi Arabia Limited (ASAL), a joint venture between AEME and the Saudi Investment Bank. ASDA’A’s services will be used by both AEME and ASAL.

“This is an exciting time for us as the American Express brand is sharpening its focus in the region and we wanted to extend this renewed vigour to our stakeholder communications,” said Premal Patel, Marketing Director for the Middle East & North Africa Region, American Express Middle East. “ASDA’A’s formidable track record and strong presence in our key markets made them a natural choice to carry our communications strategy forward.”

Nabil Abou Alwan, Head of Marketing at American Express Saudi Arabia Limited, said: “Tailoring communications to meet the local needs of every individual market is crucial in overcoming business challenges. Having the largest GDP in the Middle East and tremendous growth potential in the payments industry, Saudi Arabia is an important market for American Express and we are confident that the appointment of ASDA’A will add further impetus in raising our external communications profile.”

Sunil John, Managing Director of ASDA’A Public Relations, said: “We are delighted to work with a world leading and premium brand such as American Express. Our wealth of highly qualified professionals and in-depth market knowledge distinguishes our offerings – which will support the realization of American Express’ business goals.”

Since establishing its Middle East presence in 1959, American Express has celebrated several milestones in the region. In 2001, the company introduced its first local currency Credit Card in the UAE, followed by a range of such cards across the region. The company also offers a fully autonomous servicing centre in Riyadh in addition to Corporate Expense Management solutions for small, medium and large-sized businesses in Saudi Arabia.

As the fastest growing agency in the Middle East, ASDA’A was declared ‘PR Agency of the Year’ at the prestigious Campaign Middle East Awards 2005 held in January, 2006. With 10 wholly owned offices across the Middle East and North Africa and over 170 PR professionals, ASDA'A Public Relations is the region's leading PR firm offering a complete range of cutting-edge consultancy services from reputation management, change management and issues and crisis communications.

American Express will continue its long-standing relationship with Memac Ogilvy for above-the-line (ATL) and below-the-line (BTL) advertising requirements.